I watched my first forum/debate of the political season last night (yes, this is the first one I actually took the time to watch - I've been content to this point to read about them the next day) and Governor Huckabee delivered yet again. My reasons for watching were twofold. First, there had been a lot of press about it because of the minority audience it was designed to reach and the number of GOP no-shows, all of whom were accused of ducking the forum because they didn't think it worth their time to woo black and Hispanic voters. I'm going to address that topic in a subsequent post. The other reason I watched it was in anticipation of a reception the next day where I was to meet Governor Huckabee for the first time. Princella Smith, a dynamic young woman from Arkansas who now lives and works in Maryland, is a personal friend of the Huckabee family and she arranged to get me in the door so I could meet the Governor. As you can see from the photo below, I accomplished my mission - I also got him to sign my copy of "From Hope to Higher Ground," a book I recommend that all undecided or conflicted Republicans read before they make a decision about who to support for President in 2008. He's as friendly and approachable as others have described him and as we talked about my first run for public office last year, he encouraged me to keep striving toward my goals - he signed my book with the words, "Go the Distance!"
Given my extensive research on his background and positions on the issues and my positive perceptions after meeting him, I am compelled to deliver a two-word message to all the evangelical voters who are wringing their hands over the choices they have before them for President in 2008 - wake up! Rather than allow the press or the political pundits to dictate to you which of these men are viable candidates for President, rally around someone who shares your beliefs and can communicate then in an inclusive, respectful and effective manner. I never thought I'd see the day when an ordained Baptist minister and successful two-term governor who consistently defended the sanctity of human life, traditional marriage and family values throughout his public life would be almost completely ignored by the very voters whose views he embraces without reservation or equivocation.
Friends, we are the most influential voting bloc in the Republican Party, particularly in the key early states of Iowa and South Carolina. We can make a difference in whether or not he ascends to the top tier of candidates simply by uniting behind him and declaring to the world that he is our man. None of the top tier candidates can match him when it comes to his authenticity and eloquence on the issues that matter to us. The electability argument doesn't wash with me because he would become instantly electable if we coalesced behind him.
In spite of our flirtation with more glamorous names on the ballot, Governor Huckabee presses on with an optimism that is contagious to all who meet him, and his campaign has probably gotten more out of a dollar than any of the big-spending front-runners. He's gaining ground in spite of the fact that the voting bloc most likely to find favor with him is apparently waiting for a knight in shining armor on a white horse to ride into town and save the day. I contend, however, that the person you're looking for has been under your nose all along and could make you proud as this nation's President if you'd just get behind him. There's still time for you to set the agenda and not allow it to be set by others who don't have our interests at heart.